• Open Access

The relationship between self-reported health status and the increasing likelihood of South Australians seeking Internet health information


Correspondence to:
Ms Nova Reinfeld-Kirkman, Discipline of General Practice, Flinders University, Bedford Park, Adelaide, SA 5042. Fax: (08) 7221 8544; e-mail: nova.reinfeld-kirkman@flinders.edu.au


Objective: To determine the proportion of South Australians seeking health information on the Internet and the relationship between searches for health information and self-reported health status.

Methods: Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 3,034 South Australians in 2008 using a clustered, multi-stage, self-weighting area sample.

Results: Compared to 2001, rates of Internet usage were 48% higher and Internet health seeking increased by 57%. All participant categories, except those in school or younger than 25, showed an increase in use of the Internet and online health information seeking. In multiple logistic regression, poorer self-reported physical and mental health were associated with greater likelihood of Internet health information searches but also less use of the Internet.

Conclusions: South Australians’ use of the Internet as a source of health information has risen between 2001 and 2008, even among groups that historically made little use of the Internet to search for health information. In Australia, health information on the Internet may be appropriately targeted towards groups who have previously been under-serviced in this medium.